Milwaukee music festival Summerfest has confirmed it’ll be breaking from tradition to take place over three weekends instead of its usual 11-day run in 2021. The dates it will be held are June 24-26, July 1-3 and July 8-10, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
According to Milwaukee World Festival CEO Don Smiley, it’s a cost-effective decision for both the festival and for fans. General admission tickets are still $23 and Smiley believes fans will get more ‘bang for their buck’ with the headliners from the cancelled days playing during the day on the revised dates.
As for how it helps the festival, “People are more apt to go out, more apt to spend money on the weekends versus weekdays.” Smiley explained to the Journal Sentinel, “We will be eliminating two Sundays, two Wednesdays, and a Tuesday … some of the weak days that were very expensive for us.”
With its usual 11-day span, Summerfest is the largest festival in the U.S. based on attendance. Smiley says the new schedule will give them more money for headliners. As an extra benefit, spreading over three weekends instead of two will give the talent booking team an extra weekend to fit acts in.
“Our research and the data that we have collected all indicate that our customers want more national bands, and they want them during the day, just like other festivals,” Smiley continued. “That doesn’t mean that we are going to eliminate the local flavor and the opportunities that we always provide (for local bands).”
Smiley didn’t make a statement about the headliners booked or whether the new format will carry on after 2021.
“This is a departure from the way that this festival has been operated for a long time, but these are really different times. The world has changed,” Smiley concluded. “If you’re not flexible and creative and willing to bend and change, then you’re going to get stuck in yesteryear.”
Summerfest originally demonstrated their flexibility by moving the 2020 Summerfest to Autumn, but as the pandemic progressed, they had to cancel it altogether. In the festival’s 53-year history, it was the first time they’d had to cancel. While the 2021 lineup is yet to be announced, the lineup initially announced for 2020 included Halsey, Chvrches, Ozzy Osbourne, Justin Bieber, Omar Apollo and Marilyn Manson.